MCI creates home page to aid teachers, students with lessons MarcoPolo connects users to Web sites

March 04, 1998|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

A bunch of computer geeks just made life easier for Broadneck Senior High School teacher Susan Gallo.

At a pat-yourself-on-the-back event that featured the governor, Washington-based MCI announced yesterday the creation of a home page to supplement textbooks and give suggestions for student projects in economics, history, English and other subjects.

A visit to the site shows that though MCI's advertising is plentiful, much of the information that the press material boasts about isn't -- at least not yet.

The home page, which is called MarcoPolo, links users to Web sites put together by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Council on Economic Education and the National Geographic Society. It is named after the adventurous 13th-century European explorer.

MCI donated nearly $2 million and spent a year developing the MarcoPolo page, which contains such things as a hands-on museum called Exhibition Hall, maps from around the world and access to National Geographic magazine.

Lesson plans teachers can use in class also are available.

One economics lesson examines how the price of a llama goes up or down when the quantity of animals changes. Graphs diagram the shifting supply and demand, and users are led to other sites such as the Bureau of Economic Analysis and an online llama market for more information.

"They've done all the preliminary steps for you so you can find things much more easily," said Gallo, who teaches English at the newly renovated high school in Cape St. Claire. "You could easily spend three or four hours just finding a site for one lesson. It's searching the Web for quality sites that's so time-consuming, and that's what this cuts down on."

MCI conducted a telephone survey in January of about 400 teachers and 1,600 students in Baltimore, Houston, New York, Detroit, Raleigh, N.C., Dallas, Atlanta and Boston.

Among the findings:

Ninety-two percent of teachers agreed that Internet use in school is critical for preparing students for the future.

Ninety-one percent of teachers and 79 percent of the general public favor using the Internet to teach core subjects.

Twenty-eight percent of teachers who don't use the Internet in their lessons said it was hard to find high-quality and reputable information on the Internet.

In his visit yesterday to the school, Gov. Parris N. Glendening stood in the computer lab and said, "This is a tremendous contribution to education in Maryland and across the country.

"When I was growing up it was almost impossible to even envision this type of technology. A net was something you used to catch fish, a Web site was something that had to be dusted, and a mouse was certainly not something you'd want to have" inside the school.

Pub Date: 3/04/98

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